As new entrants, regulatory requirements and infrastructure investment demands start putting pressure on utilities, attracting new customers and keeping existing customers satisfied are a top priority for the year ahead.
Utilities firms have recognized focusing on customer experience (CX) is a business investment, rather than another cost of doing business.
In 2012, just 18 percent of businesses in the sector believed customer satisfaction was important according to the Aberdeen Group. But as consumers and corporate customers alike have become more demanding, and as the amount of choice in the market has increased, so has the importance of delivering CX.
Quadient research shows that today CX is firmly on the agenda at 89 percent of companies, even if only 49 percent claim to be actively taking steps to improve it.
“Often organizations are reticent because they equate CX with digitization and transformation,” begins Stephen Caffull, Account Manager, Utilities for Sitel Group. “It’s much easier to make progress into improving CX if you start by thinking about effort and ease and develop from there.”
Reducing the effort that customers need to exert in order to interact with your organization is crucial to building customer loyalty and advocacy.
From a simple-to-navigate website and self-service options that are always up to date, to ensuring that a customer can move from one channel to another without having to repeat the same information again, the easier you make your customer’s life, the easier you make it for them to like your business.
“Customer Effort Scores (CES) have become one of the best metrics for measuring how customers really feel about your brand,” says Caffull. “Businesses with a high CES have better customer retention and advocacy rates and find it easier to get existing customers to increase their average spend.”
But before you can start boosting CES, you need to get to grips with all of the friction points and issues your customers encounter in their dealings with you, and that means looking at holistic customer journeys.
“You need to know how customers are interacting with your business,” explains Caffull. “Which touchpoints are they using and in what order to achieve what they need to do. How do they discover your company? What do they have to go through to question a bill? How do they manage their accounts?”
To map and optimize customer journeys, an organization needs to look at its business from the customer’s perspective.
“This is the only way of seeing how well marketing, sales, service and process management serve the customer and how you can identify silos between functions – if any,” explains Caffull. “A lack of data flow and communication between sales and process management could be the reason why customers find signing up to your company a real pain point.”
Due to the nature of their business, utility companies have fewer opportunities than other service providers to deliver a dazzling CX. The path to purchase for an electricity supplier is very different to buying clothes. However, utility companies also have an advantage in that they have fewer customer journeys and each one is distinct.
“This means optimizing the journeys for CX are easier to accomplish,” Caffull points out. “Once the journeys and the processes to which they’re connected are optimized for the customer, they will also be more responsive, meaning that they can be constantly enhanced and refined to meet changing customer need.”
From mapping and optimizing customer journeys to developing and delivering omnichannel strategies that remove barriers between your business and your customers, Sitel Group has the solutions and the sector expertise to raise your organization’s CX performance.